Posts Tagged ‘marketing trends#8217;


In every marketing endeavor, the first step is the market analysis, what is known as the 5 Cs; Consumer, Company, Competitors, Context, and Collaborators. While all the Cs are important, depending on the case, their importance may vary. For instance, in the case of start-ups, typically the available resources are limited. As such, start-ups are often forced to collaborate with other companies/ organizations in order to operate. The choice of collaborators, then, becomes crucial.

In a recent seminar of the European Commission program Health-2-Market (organized by Qplan, hosted by the Hellenic Pasteur Institute, and delivered by IE) the tradeoffs that many start-ups have to consider when choosing collaborators, especially in the health-sector, came up.


Specifically, start-ups in the Health Sector typically have some knowledge and/or innovation-based competitive edge. However, they also typically lack the resources to reach a critical mass of consumers, that could get a profitable business going. At the same time, there is a multitude of potential collaborators in the field, that can give easy access to these consumers. For instance, a start-up possessing an innovative technology of gene-diagnostics and the expertise to efficiently operate it, does not necessarily have easy access to target groups that would be potentially interested for this service – let’s say women who are or want to soon get pregnant. To reach those women, this start-up can collaborate with either self-employed doctors, or with small independent maternity clinics, or with very large hospitals that own maternity clinics.

Here is the tradeoff. A strong collaborator will probably bring a large customer base for the start-up, but will also have a lot more power in relation to the start-up. To continue with the example above, a start-up collaborating with a large hospital will probably get fast many customers. However, if the hospital sees that there is high demand for the service of the start-up, it will soon develop it for its own, and will not need the start-up any more. The big fish will prevail. This problem becomes even larger as typically diagnostic tools and processes are hard to get legal protection.

On the other hand, if the start-up cooperates with smaller collaborators, the risk of getting driven out of market will be smaller. At the same time, however, it will be a lot harder to get a critical mass of customers soon enough.

Clearly, there is not a single answer regarding which collaborators should a start-up choose. While deciding though, any start-up must balance the benefits of getting early revenues, with the long-term risk of becoming too exposed to collaborators who may end up being competitors. In any case, while in business, the start-up should try to develop and maintain close relations with its customers, and build a strong and unique brand name for itself, independently of its potential collaborators.

More about Health2market e-training:
More about Health2market:

Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu


In a previous post, I introduced to you a joint effort by the IE marketing department and Travel-Club, the purpose of which was to study consumer loyalty (for more details, see here).

In this post, I am excited to present to you the first results!

The IE research team(marketing professors Dilney Gonçalves, Shameek Sinha, myself, and our research collaborator David Santos), leaded by the head of the marketing department, professor Teresa Serra, started investigating a key question: Do loyalty programs really work?

To respond to this question we have analyzed a database of near 4 million of real customers’ transactions, which took place in the multi-sponsor loylaty program Travel Club (, the greatest experts in loyalty programs in Spain, recently collaborating with one of the leading international loyalty agencies – Aimia.


Some of the key results so far are:

  • Use the channels efficiently: Communication with customers is the key of the program (optimizing the number and the timing of offers and communications does increase memberspending)
  • Use the rewards strategically: Give a final push to members who are close to getting a reward.
  • Use the presence of other partners in the program wisely: Having more partners in the program can increase the members’ spending through cross-selling.

In summary, loyalty programs really work only when they are used strategically, taking into consideration the needs and behavior of the program mebers, and being with them as much as possible, not only at the time of a transaction.

For further information, and for a full report of the results, you can visit directly: (only in Spanish – sorry :) )

No doubt, that with such great infornation on such an interesting and important topic, you will be hearing from us more in the future!

Let me wish Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to everyone!


Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Marketing IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu

*This post is co-authored with David Santos


The summer is almost over, and in this  post I would like to discuss issues related with the “King” of the summer industries – tourism. The question was born in my head during my vacations at my hometown, in Crete. Specifically, the official numbers for Greece – and Crete in particular – showed an increase in the number of tourists in relation to 2013 (which was also a good year). In addition, I could personally observe that there was a big number of tourists strolling on the streets. Nevertheless, the owners of tourism related businesses (e.g., small hotels, gift shops, etc.) were complaining that their business was down. And a quick look inside these businesses confirmed their view: Most shops and small hotels were not nearly as busy as last year.

So how could both of these opposing facts be true? I believe it is because of the existence of two pretty well-defined segments of tourists. The first segment, let’s call them “the relaxers” primarily care about resting and relaxing. What they want from their vacation is as few hustle as possible, even if that means missing out on a few interesting stuff. Naturally, they prefer a vacation package that they book from a travel agent. This includes a big hotel (usually part of a chain), which offers them everything: 3 meals, shops, cafes, bars, close access to a nice beach. They typically leave their hotel only for pre-scheduled excursions either to the closest town, or to a few main attractions.

The second segment, let’s call them “the explorers” primarily care about exploring and getting to know the place they visit. What they want from their vacation is new experiences, and are willing to exert more effort in discovering the “secrets” of the place they are visiting. They usually stay at small hotels, but they spend very little time there. On the contrary, they leave their hotel early in the morning, and it is not unusual for them to eat, shop, have drinks, etc. at a different place each day – or even during the same day. They plan most details of their trip on their own, perhaps with the help of friends and “experts” (e.g., tripadvisor).

So, what seems to have happened in Crete this summer, is that many tourists came (thus, the increase in the gross numbers), but most of them were “relaxers”, and few of them were “explorers” (thus, the decrease in tourism revenues for small tourism related businesses).

Now, is this a problem? I believe it is. In an uncertain industry, such as tourism, it is risky to concentrate only on one market segment. For instance, relaxers would go to any place that their travel agent sends them, as long as they can relax. But travel agents operate based on profit, so they would have no problem to send their clients to other locations, as long as they get a better price. So low prices (at the package level) are critically important for that segment, and can result in big changes in demand from year to year.

I could mention several examples, but perhaps the most convincing is the following. The Greek Ministry of Tourism, seems to want to target both the relaxers and the explorers. For instance, take a look at the following ad – it seems to be targeting for the most part the “explorers”. So are many of the videos of the official agency for tourism in Greece.

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In summary, it looks that the good results in terms of “sales” (i.e., gross tourism numbers) are not the result of a careful marketing strategy building on the competitive advantages of the brand “Greece”, but a result of competitive pricing (which, may be a result of the ongoing economic crisis in Greece). If that is the case, the positive results of Greek tourism during the last couple of years are not likely to be sustainable.  They will be over together the price advantage, largely stemming from the crisis. In order to ensure long-lasting market growth,   an aligned marketing strategy is necessary.

Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu



Recently, we hosted at IE the training academy “New Venture Creation and Marketing in Health/Life Sciences”, as a part of European Commission program Health-2-Market. During this week-long intensive training program, researchers-entrepreneurs from all over Europe had the chance to develop in collaboration with IE faculty the marketing plans of their ventures.

What struck me the most during this academy is the following. All of the participants were extremely motivated and knowledgeable about how their business ideas (products, services, or complete solutions) could be used. Each of them could talk for hours (literally) on how great and useful their business idea was… However, almost nobody could (at least at the beginning) adopt the view of their potential customers’ regarding their business. What would be the core benefit, for them?

In marketing jargon, they were focusing on their actual, and not on their core product. They were focusing on what their customer would pay for, and not why they would pay for it. For example, participants thought that they were providing “easy to use and technologically advanced medical devices” instead of “time, flexibility, and accuracy of results” to the doctors. “An integrated patient monitoring system” instead of “Cost reduction” for the hospitals. And, finally, “an easier and less intrusive way of heart-surgery”, instead of “more saved lives”.

Why may this be happening? Well, most entrepreneurship profs argue (rightly) that one of the keys to entrepreneurial success is passion for your business. They frequently use the metaphor that entrepreneurs must see their business as their child. Here, I believe, is the problem. It is extremely difficult for parents to stop admiring how great their child is, and start thinking how their child can be helpful to other people, the society, etc. Just as many parents believe that the society should be full of admiration for their children, many entrepreneurs believe that their business is so great, that the market and the customers should automatically appreciate them.

We have, thus, the following paradox: The very same passion that is necessary for entrepreneurial success, is preventing entrepreneurs from being customer focused, inhibiting thus entrepreneurial success at the same time. Maybe, then, the real key is to be able to manage your passion in such a way that keeps entrepreneurs motivated, but at the same time does not switch their focus away from customers’ needs.


More about Health2market e-training:
More about Health2market:

Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu


Hello again everyone,

It is a great pleasure for the IE team involved at the Health2Market initiative to announce that the Health2Market Seminar: “Cutting Edge Decision Making Tools for Entrepreneurs”, will be hosted at IE Business School / IE University on March 3rd 2014. This Seminar will be delivered by professor Dilney Gonçalves.

But why is this seminar important? Well, managing a business at its core involves making good decisions. While most entrepreneurs will seek training in techniques in specific functions of the business like finance, marketing, and accounting, few are trained in decision-making. While it is important to understand the techniques involved in running the business, it is just as important to be a good decision maker. This seminar will provide participants with the necessary knowledge and skills to structure a decision problem, generate options, and select the best alternative in a consistent and unbiased way, enabling them to make the best possible decisions in their business ventures.

The seminar will be useful for everyone who is involved with health-sciences related businesses. So if you (or anyone you know) fits this profile, please do register!



Registration is Required! Registration Deadline: February 7th, 2014

Participation is free of charge!!!

In addition, Health2Market offers FREE OF CHARGE full e-training courses. The courses range from the basics of marketing strategy to tips on how to attract partners to full-scale business planning and will help you understand the dynamics of the market and how to pursue business venture. Whether you already have some experience in the business world, or even if you have never left the science lab, the courses are designed to be easily understood by anyone.


More about the Health2Market Seminar: “Cutting Edge Decision Making Tools for Entrepreneurs”:
More about Health2market e-training:

More about Health2market:


Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu


Big Asian countries, such as China and India, are attracting the attention of companies in a variety of industries. Typically, two kinds of business opportunities are being pursued in these countries. First, many companies (e.g., IBM, Adidas, P&G, etc. – the list is really endless) transfer there some or all of their operations simply to benefit from lower production costs. Second, as the residents of these two countries represent roughly 50% of the total planet population, many companies are entering these markets  in attempt to grow their consumer base. From financial services to pharma, there seems to be something for every business domain.

As smart and profitable as the above practices may be, they are still a bit shallow (or shortsighted as a McKinsey article argues). A closer look reveals an important 3rd business opportunity; The tremendous cultural heritage of both India and China can provide excellent business prospects for companies who wish to be a bit more adventurous and seize opportunities as they arise.

But who would be the customers for such “culturally loaded” products? Well, first, an important part of Europeans and Americans find Asia as an exotic place, and they could welcome some of this “exotic-ness” to their lives. This is evident from both hard-numbers (Indian exports to USA alone are worth about USD 40 Billion) and softer consumer observation perspectives (e.g., influences of a recent Jean Paul Gaultiers collection).

But that is not all. With the modernization of the economies, many multinational firms now have significant offices in India and/or China. The executives of these companies, can be either locals, who have climbed up all the way to the corporate ladder, or expats, who were brought in by their companies in order to bring to these new markets their expertise. Both these types of people are interesting niche markets. The first, living and working in a westernized environment, may feel a little disconnected from their cultural origins. The second, living and working in a far away country, may try hard to “blend it”. No matter if their initial motive, is connecting to the past, blending in, or simply finding signature corporate gifts for their companies, they are very likely to seek for products that carry some cultural meaning of the country they live in. These products, then, could be used either by the executives themselves, or as corporate gifts of the companies they work for, which perhaps also want to communicate “original local identity”

Elements is a company that tries to seize this opportunity. The idea behind Elements was born by a team in which two IE alumni, Aman Goel and Gustavo Salinas, belong. Elements presents a unique approach to marketing hand-made Indian handicrafts, trying to connect rural Indian artisans and the culture their crafts carry, with the mainstream markets.

Aman and Gustavo explained to me the idea in greater detail.

“Indian handicrafts have been appreciated in India and abroad for a long time and already claim a market size of over USD 5 Billion. However, Elements believes, that the potential market for Indian handicrafts is much bigger. Indian artisans, for centuries, have been making the same products with same designs. So, while the world has become more modern and fast paced, Indian handicrafts have not evolved to suit the tastes of modern customers. Especially for the corporate clients, the gifts are seen as a medium building relationships with clients and employees. Therefore, the gifts not only require to communicate the company’s philosophy but also be unique. However, the corporate gifting industry in India is dominated by small regional traders who mostly import gift items from China leaving minimal scope for customization. This is where Elements brings in its expertise to adapt and contemporize traditional designs that are tailor made for each company and that carry the story of arts and artisans who have made the product. The enclosed image shows a business card holder developed by Elements using traditional Tarkashi art (metal wire inlay in wood), which has traditionally been used in making festive boxes.

El_Card holder










Furthermore, Elements also works closely with the artisans, in order to guarantee authenticity and reliable delivery of the crafts. If needed, it provides the artisans with tools and raw material to improve their production efficiency while reducing their financial burden. In addition, close cooperation helps building strong relationships and allows passing to the artisans maximum benefits from a sale. The video that follows is indicative of this close relationship.”

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Overall, though still in early stages, Elements shows that countries like India and China offer interesting market opportunities that do not necessarily rely on cheaper cost of production, but rather build on the value that products from these countries can deliver.

Do you think of any other similar business opportunities?

You can read more about Elements at:





Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu


In a previous post (see here), I had introduced to you Health2Market; a 3-year long project funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission, aiming to provide Health researchers with the necessary business knowledge and skills for more viable Intellectual Property Rights management as well as market exploitation of their results through setting up of new business ventures in health/life science sectors .
I was recently at the pilot academy of H2M, and the case of some researchers-entrepreneurs caught my attention. Why? In marketing, we expect a company to be profitable by meeting the needs of its customers… In some complicated business settings though, it is hard to identify who your customer is!!
I will try to describe what I mean as accurately as possible, given that I am not a doctor. The researchers have developed a specific type of “coating” that could be applied on artificial bone implants. This coating greatly reduced the probability that the implant would be rejected by the patient’s body after the surgery. So, it sounded like a great product! It could reduce the risks of further surgery for a patient, relieve their families from extra anxiety, reduce the operational costs of hospitals, free up some time for doctors, increase the profitability of private health insurance, increase the effectiveness of public health insurance, and so on. But who are the real customers here? A closer look shows that this is not an easy question to answer!
  • The patients? Well, sure they are the main beneficiaries… But in most cases they will be minimally involved in paying for the extra price of a coated implant. In addition, they will probably not be involved at all in the implant choice process. They will do whatever the doctors suggest, and the hospital has available.
  • The patients’ families? Likewise, the benefits for them are clear too. But their involvement in paying the costs and deciding will be very little.
  • The hospitals? Of course, the hospitals are the ones that will have to order the coated implants. But are they the customers? To start with, they are not paying – the patients and the insurance pay. In addition, there is a good chance that the person who makes the orders for the implants has little understanding of the coating advantages, and is mostly interested in keeping costs low, and existing suppliers happy. Finally, coated implants reduce the number of needed surgeries. So they are bad for the hospital’s business! Thus, in extreme and, perhaps, unethical cases, for-profit hospitals might actually oppose this innovation.
  • The doctors? They may have some role in deciding what implants to use. They see the benefits for their patients, and for themselves (less surgeries). But this role may be limited. In addition, they are not the ones who pay.
  • The implant manufacturers? They are the ones who will initially pay for the coating, and then sell the coated implants to the hospitals for higher prices. But there is NO WAY to convince them, unless the hospitals are convinced to try the coated implants.
  • The (public or private) insurance? They are paying for great part of the additional surgeries needed…but they do not decide on what implants will be used!

To conclude, even seemingly easy marketing questions – like who your customer is – are sometimes very tough to answer. In such cases, knowing your market and marketing your product to all interested parties (by “selling” different each benefits to each), can be key. This is the use of a proper “market analysis” – known to marketing core course students as “the 5 Cs” (company, customer, competition, collaborators, context)

By the way, if you are (or know someone who is) considering to start a health-research based business, stay tuned:


Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu


“When a man’s knowledge is sufficient to attain, and his virtue is not sufficient to enable him to hold, whatever he may have gained, he will lose again.”

-          Confucius

Most marketers would be surprised to learn that an important objective they have was so concisely summarized by Confucius many centuries ago. Companies, just like individuals, must strive to attain and hold on their objects of desire. The only difference is that whereas individuals usually have a diverse set of objectives (for consumers’ pursuits to attain and maintain whatever is desirable for them, see my previous posts here, here, and here), companies frequently have only one: CUSTOMERS!

Customer loyalty has been an important focus for both managerial and academic research. Hundreds of reports have been published, dealing both with general loyalty-related issues (e.g., by McKinsey) as well as with loyalty in specific business sectors (e.g., by Bain, on retail banking). This “research frenzy” on loyalty is well justified, as there is little doubt that increased customer loyalty leads to increased profitability. A seminal paper (Reichheld & Sasser 1990; Harvard Business Review) identifies the sources for this increase in profitability. Specifically, loyal customers are usually less costly to have (compared to acquiring new ones), are more likely to buy other products and services from the company, are less price sensitive (allowing the company to charge price premiums), and finally are the best ambassadors for the brand, generating thus additional sales via referrals.    

Despite the great amount of work investigating customer loyalty over the last decades, the topic is still “hot”. Why? Well, first, because it is super-important. And, second, because we still need to understand it better.







IE Business School has partnered with Travel-Club (the biggest multi-sponsor loyalty program in Spain, handling loyalty programs of companies such as Repsol and Eroski) to respond to this need for further investigation. They have created a “Loyalty Research Chair”, the purpose of which would be to combine the resources and expertise of Travel-Club with the research capabilities of IE Business School in order to answer questions like:

  • What are the benefits of a customer loyalty program for a company?
  • What are the benefits of a customer loyalty program for loyal customer?
  • How can these benefits be reliably measured?
  • What variations of a loyalty program maximize these benefits? Do they differ by business sector?

IE marketing department has compiled a team of excellent researchers (marketing professors Dilney Gonçalves, Shameek Sinha, and myself), leaded by the head of the marketing department, professor Teresa Serra, to carry this task

If customer loyalty is an interesting topic for you, stay tuned for the exciting outputs of this initiative!

Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu


Health2Market: From health research to healthy business

Written on September 28, 2013 by Antonios Stamatogiannakis in B2B Marketing, Biopharma, Innovation

Great amounts of resources are spent every year on health research. These resources serve one greater purpose: to improve individuals’ well-being. Unfortunately, however, much of the output of this research just gets stockpiled into scientific journals, without exploiting its full practical potential. A question then is, how could health researchers be motivated to actually push their inventions into real healthcare products, that will eventually enhance the welfare of individuals?

Health2Market, for which I am the scientific coordinator for IE, is an initiative trying to provide a solution to this problem. Health2Market is a 3-year long project funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission. It aims at providing Health researchers with the necessary business knowledge and skills for more viable Intellectual Property Rights management as well as market exploitation of their results through setting up of new business ventures in health/life science sectors .

It gives great flexibility to the interested health researches by offering (free of charge) services ranging from e-learning, to face to face training, even to personalized coaching for the most promising cases.  The goal is to motivate them in order to transform the great research that they are already conducting to healthy businesses.

To conclude, just like it is not enough to have a great product to succeed in the marketplace, it is not enough to do great health research to improve individuals’ well-being. This research must find its way to the individuals who will benefit from it. This is, fundamentally, a question of doing business, a lot more than doing research.  In this vein, initiatives such as Health2Market hit the sweet spot: They try to equip health researchers with the tools they need to bring their inventions to life, and (why not?) bring life with their inventions.

By the way, if you are (or know someone who is) considering to start a health-research based business, stay tuned:


Antonios (Adoni) Stamatogiannakis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Marketing
IE Business School – IE University

Antonios . Stamatogiannakis @ ie . edu


Oreo reinventa la Superbowl

Written on February 4, 2013 by Ignacio Gafo in ADVERTISING, Branding, E-MARKETING, International Marketing

¿Cuál ha sido el mejor anuncio de la Superbowl?

Siento adelantarme a mi amigo Jesús Rebollo, pero no puedo dejar de escribir sobre los anuncios que se lanzaron ayer y preguntaros cuál ha sido el mejor.

Seguro que al igual que yo, habréis recibido un buen número de correos y artículos, en el que distintos medios y personas dan su opinión. Que si cuál ha sido el más entretenido, el más ingenioso, el más notorio, el más pobre, etc.

De lo que había visto, claramente me quedaba con el de Audi. Me parecía ingenioso, tenía llegada al público objetivo y encima trasmitía muy bien los valores de marca…

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Algo que no ha conseguido este año Bud, que para mí ha sido una gran decepción. Porque aunque como dice el New York Times es ciertamente entrañable, creo que la imagen que transmiten es muy soft y muy alejada de lo que uno espera de esta marca…

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Como os decía, me quedaba con Audi, hasta que llegó a mis manos un artículo de Sandro Pozzi, en el que se explicaba la GENIALIDAD (con mayúsculas) de Oreo. Que, aprovechando un apagón de 34 minutos en la final, colgó en Twitter el anuncio que teneís debajo:

Como os podéis imaginar, se ha llevado una de las mejores valoraciones el día después, además un sinfin de RT (14,000 RT el primer minuto). Lo que no es para menos pues evidencia varias cosas:

  • La importancia del momento. Las marcas tienen que estar “vivas” y conectar a tiempo real con los consumidores.
  • La importancia del marketing digital. Del Social Media en particular, que puede llevar a impactos superiores a los que consiguen las marcas invirtiendo muchos muchos millones (8 millones de US$ de media en la Superbowl).
  • La importancia de la creatividad. Puede que cambien los formatos; puede que cambie el consumidor; pero la capacidad de crear e innovar siempre estará ahí.
  • La importancia de la simplicidad. Menos es ciertamente más.


Espero vuestros comentarios e impresiones en @ignacio gafo y en @ieweblog.



Ignacio Gafo


PS1: Alguno me dirá que el apagón estaba programado. Con todo lo que está ocurriendo hoy, ya me creo que cualquier cosa. Pero esto rozaría lo inconcebible.

PS2: Gracias a mis alumnos del GMBABL y en especial a Adolfo, por despertarme la gusanillo y provocar este post.

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